There has been so much excitement in Allen since it was announced on Thursday that Jack Gulati purchased the team. Jack made a great first impression with the standing room only crowd that attended the press conference and left no doubt that he will improve the off ice operation of the Americans and provide whatever is needed to make the on ice product successful. His interest in seeking out ideas for improvement from all stakeholders, his commitment to be in Allen on a consistent basis and engage the fans was so refreshing.
- With the many positives there was one question that was asked that has had me wondering what is happening behind the scenes. The question was very straight forward, "Have you re-signed Martinson yet"? The response by both Jack Gulati and Steve Martinson caused me pause to say the least. I have listened to it a half a dozen times since Thursday and each time it makes me wonder what the future holds.
- If you saw the "open letter" I published on Thursday you undoubtedly noticed what I said about coach Martinson. It should be noted I wrote that open letter prior to knowing who the new owner would be and added the Jack Gulati information after I found out he had purchased the team. In case you didn't read the open letter here is a portion of what I said about Steve Martinson. " First among equals is signing Steve Martinson to a long term contract.
His record as a coach and General Manager is unequaled with four
championships in four years in Allen and 10 championships in 20 years as a
head coach. His bond with the fans is unparalleled and he deserves to
be the best compensated coach in the league. If Steve Martinson is not
part of the long term plan it will make the sales and marketing of the
team much more difficult".
- Martinson not only wins but he wins with an entertaining style of hockey. Allen is always at the top of the league in wins, goals, hits and fights. It all adds up to entertaining hockey games.
- I have to admit when I heard the Allen Americans were being sold I incorrectly assumed at the press conference announcing the sale, a contract extension for coach Martinson would also be announced. That obviously didn't happen. To me it was even more concerning the way both men answered the simple question, have you re-signed Martinson yet? Here are the exact quotes:
Gulati: "No comment, how is that."
Martinson: "No comment."
Gulati: "He does have an agreement for a year and then I am sure we are going to be talking."
- I keep asking myself if I am reading more into this because I am a Steve Martinson supporter and I know from covering the team for five years he is not a "no comment" kind of guy. I have only known Jack Gulati for a week but I do know without a doubt his interest is having a successful team on the ice so he can improve the franchise off the ice. It seems like a perfect fit but watching the body language and listening to their responses at the press conference has me nervous about the future. Unfortunately, I don't have any answers but my plan is to try and talk to the coach and owner tomorrow and see if I can get some clarification. Let's hope I am just being a nervous Nelly and am reading more into this than I should. Stay tuned.
- Two long winning streaks continued last night. The Colorado Eagles beat Utah 7-1 to run their winning streak to 15 games. Colorado now has a five point lead over the Americans. Allen's AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda beat Tucson 4-3 in overtime for their 14th consecutive win.
- Greger Hanson played his second game for Binghamton (AHL) last night as they lost 3-2 at home to Utica. Hanson had one shot on goal but the rest of his boxscore was all zeros. Binghamton finishes three games in three days tonight when they travel to Hartford to play the Wolf Pack.
- The Americans are in the midst of a three day break which is actually a delayed break for the all-star game. Because the all-star game was so close the the Christmas break, coach Martinson and the team agreed it would be better to delay the three days off until now. The winner with the delay is Chad Costello who had to play in the all-star game resulting in him missing the three days off if the break would have have been as originally scheduled. The loser is Greger Hanson who was just loaned to Binghamton and is missing out on the break. The three day break will actually turn out to be a four day break for most players. The team is supposed to return to practice on Tuesday. Coach Martinson scheduled practice later than normal (1:00 pm) to allow players that were traveling out of town more time to return. He then converted the Tuesday practice to optional so players don't have to show up for practice until Wednesday morning. Martinson said he had taken note of the five day bye week the NHL has adopted and he thought the four day break may help the team down the stretch.
- If you haven't been paying attention to the Mountain Division standings they have really tightened up. With the exception of Rapid City the other six teams are all in the playoff hunt. Alaska and Utah have been slipping and Missouri is surging. Here are the current standings with games remaining in parentheses:
80 points - Colorado (16 games remaining)
75 points - Allen (15 games remaining)
67 points - Idaho (17 games remaining)
60 points - Alaska (20 games remaining)
57 points - Missouri (19 games remaining)
56 points - Utah (17 games remaining)
46 points - Rapid City (19 games remaining)
- The fate of some teams will rest on how they do against division rivals that they play down the stretch. Here are a few examples:
Utah plays Colorado five times down the stretch but finishes at home against Missouri.
Missouri has to play Allen five times and finishes their season with three games in Utah.
Idaho has six games against Rapid City & finishes the season with three games in Alaska.
Alaska has five games remaining against Rapid City & finishes at home against Idaho.
- Rapid City is out of the playoff picture but they could be the king maker when it comes to what teams make the playoffs. After this weekend all of the Rush's remaining games are within the Division. They play Idaho six times, Alaska five times, Utah three times, Colorado three times and they do not play Missouri or Allen.
DID YOU KNOW: Of all of the amazing stats when you look at Chad Costello's ECHL career the one that says the most to me is his margin of victory each season in points scored. If you compare stats against your peers it takes into account the variations in scoring over time. There is nobody in the modern era of ECHL hockey that is anywhere close to Chad in scoring. Costello has 103 points this season and currently leads the ECHL
scoring race by 34 points. In the 29 year history of the ECHL the
scoring champion has won the scoring
title by more than 20 points only five times. Chad is on his way to
accomplishing that feat three years in a row. Here are the five years in ECHL history where the scoring champion had
at least twenty more points than the runner up along with where Chad
currently fits this season. This is why I always say if you compare Chad to his peers rather than look at raw numbers he is the best scorer in the history of the league.
45 points - 2014-2015 (Chad Costello)
43 points - 1992-1993 (Trevor Jobe)
35 points - 1989-1990 (Bill McDougall)
34 points - 2016-2017 (Chad Costello) as of February 26
24 points - 1995-1996 (Hugo Belanger)
23 points - 2015-2016 (Chad Costello)